Photographing individual lighthouses as seen from the opposing coastlines of France and the home nations of the United Kingdom, Belfast-based photographer Donovan Wylie (born 1971) confronts the physical barriers and invitations to crossing created by the sea.
Immediately following the June 2016 referendum on Brexit, Wylie began exploring ideas of family dynamics and fractured relationships as a way to understand the United Kingdom’s current state. In collaboration with the writer Chris Klatell and the Seamus Heaney Centre, this project responds to Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927), which investigates the complexities of seeing, loss and the passage of time. By photographing the afterglow of distant lighthouses to process the tensions and complexities of identity and isolationism, Lighthouse simultaneously represents closeness and distance, interrogating how the isolation of the British landscape contributes to understanding national identity.
This is the latest of Donovan Wylie's (born 1971) books with Steidl that explore the architecture of the Northern Ireland conflict. While Wylie's earlier publications—including British Watchtowers and Maze—document disappearing military structures, Housing Plans for the Future focuses on the legacy of architectural containment in urban areas today. Wylie took these photos during walks through a number of social-housing neighborhoods in inner-city Belfast, which look eerily similar. While the built environments at first appear benign, even mundane, sustained looking reveals how they purposely control vision and movement. Walls block vehicle access, houses are inverted to face away from neighboring communities and minimize potential antagonism, and excessive street lighting ensures visibility. These defensive structures, built in the 1970s and '80s and still populated today, are a powerful and largely unrecognized legacy of the Northern Ireland conflict.
Donovan Wylie's The Tower Series, now available as a complete set in a custom cardboard box, reveals the repetitive character of military conflict across diverse geographies and histories. The first book in the series is British Watchtowers (2007), which studies the lines of sight from surveillance posts along the Irish border, and reveals a kind of virtual environment that enveloped the border region of Northern Ireland. These towers, constructed in the mid-1980s primarily in the mountainous border region of South Armagh, were landmarks in a 30-year conflict in and over Northern Ireland. The second book, Outposts (2011), charts NATO observation posts in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Built on natural promontories with multiple lines of sight, these outposts formed a protective visual architecture and were frequently positioned on defense locations established during earlier conflicts. North Warning System draws a close to his Tower Series. Surveying a radar station just inside the Canadian Arctic, Wylie examines the detection of invisible threats through unmanned observation posts in remote regions.
North Warning System is Donovan Wylie's third and final book of photographs on the themes of vision and power in military architecture, and draws a close to his Tower Series. Surveying a radar station just inside the Canadian Arctic, Wylie examines the detection of invisible threats through unmanned observation posts in remote regions. The development of long-range bombers and missiles after the Second World War made Canada's arctic frontier vulnerable to attack from the air. This forced Canada and the United States to jointly construct a matrix of short and long-range radar stations in the 1950s. Known as the Distant Early Warning Line, these stations provided electronic observation and surveillance capability across Canada's northern frontier throughout the Cold War. In the 1990s, these stations were upgraded to form the North Warning System (NWS) which is increasingly active—as international maritime traffic develops throughout the north, so does military presence. In North Warning System, whiteness takes on the quality of a blank canvas, a metaphor for the sweep of history.
Outposts: Kandahar Province presents Donovan Wylie's photographs of Forward Operating Bases constructed in the Kandahar Province of Afghanistan. From 2006 to 2011, Canada sent nearly 3,000 military personnel to Afghanistan in support of NATO's International Security Assistance Force. Serving alongside infantry and artillery, military engineers designed a network of outposts throughout the province. Built on natural promontories with multiple lines of sight, these outposts formed a protective visual architecture. They were frequently positioned on defensive locations established during earlier conflicts and represent reincarnations of past histories under new powers. The resulting images are the latest phase in Wylie's interrogation of the architecture of modern conflict. The work was made on behalf of the Imperial War Museum in London and with generous support from the Bradford Fellowship in Photography.
The Maze prison was opened in 1976, at the height of the conflict in Northern Ireland, and held both republican and loyalist prisoners in its eight identical H-blocks. Through its history of protests, hunger strikes and escapes, the Maze became an emblem of the Northern Ireland conflict. After the Belfast peace agreement in 1998, inmates were gradually released, but the Maze remained open until 2007. Between 2002 and 2003 Donovan Wylie spent almost 100 days inside the prison, absorbing the psychology of the architecture and recording each section as it was destroyed. He was the only photographer to be granted official and unlimited access to the site. Wylie then revisited the prison in 2007 to document its demolition. First published in 2004 to critical acclaim, this new slipcased edition comes in two hardback volumes--Maze 2002/03 and Maze 2007/08--and contains a supplementary booklet, The Architecture of Containment, with an essay and historical chronology by Louise Purbrick.
Observation, whether by the human eye or the eye of a surveillance camera, requires an architectural structure that elevates the viewer into a position of advantage. The system of Iron Age hill forts, built across Britain from around 500 B.C., used natural promontories to survey the surrounding landscape; 2000 years later the British army used a similar system of watchtowers to survey the occupied territories of Northern Ireland. These high tech towers, constructed in the mid 1980s, primarily in the mountainous border region of South Armagh, were landmarks in a 30-year conflict in and over Northern Ireland, euphemistically called "The Troubles." The Towers were finally demolished between 2003 and 2007 as part of the British government's "demilitarization" program for Northern Ireland. For over a year Donovan Wylie photographed these towers, working entirely from an elevated position enabled by military helicopter, observing the observers and ensuring that their actions were not forgotten.
For nearly 30 years, the Maze prison, ten miles outside Belfast, played a unique role in the Northern Ireland Troubles. Built in 1976 to house terrorist prisoners, political segregation was so fierce it led to scenes of violent protests, hunger strikes, mass escapes and deaths of both inmates and prison staff. At its peak capacity in the 1980s, the Maze housed more than 1,700 prisoners. In September 2000, under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, the prison was closed and the last four inmates were transferred to other prisons in Northern Ireland. Now, a handful of prison officers man the empty complex while the future of the site is debated. The prison's current state of limbo and the unanswered questions regarding its fate seem to reflect Northern Ireland's unsteady progress in grappling with its recent history. Last year, the Northern Ireland Prison Service gave Donovan Wylie exclusive and unprecedented permission to photograph the entire prison complex without supervision. The result is a book which not only documents the physical structure but manages to communicate some experience of the psychological impact of being inside the Maze. With a text by Louise Purbrick, Senior Lecturer in History and Design at Brighton University, and a timeline history of the prison and its prisoners as they relate to the history of the Troubles, this book records and preserves a unique physical structure that has played an important role in our recent history.
BOOK FORMAT Hardcover, 11.25 x 9.25 in. / 112 pgs / 60 color.
PUBLISHING STATUS Pub Date 8/2/2004 Active
DISTRIBUTION D.A.P. Exclusive Catalog: FALL 2004
PRODUCT DETAILS ISBN 9781862076846TRADE List Price: $45.00 CDN $60.00
AVAILABILITY In stock
in stock $45.00
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